The number of families on the streets and without homes has increased. The recent recession has driven families into shelters for the homeless in 2009 according to a report by the federal government. In 2008 there were 159,000 shelter seeking families but in 2009 the number went up to 170,000 according to HUD. In all the families comprised of 535,000 individuals.
The number has slightly fallen since the last one year from 1.6 million to 1.56 million. It calculates to 1:200 Americans being without homes.
In 2009 in a single night of January there were more than 643,000 persons across the nation in this plight. But the number actually out under the skies and on the streets is less. Over 60% availed of emergency shelters or temporary housing programmes. 37% were living on the streets or in other locales not meant for human habitation. In 2008 nearly 42% were on the streets.
HUD secretary Shaun Donovan said, “As a nation we appear to doing a better job sheltering those who might otherwise be living on our streets, but clearly homelessness is impacting a greater share of families with children”.
It is the economic fallout that has triggered this swelling of numbers of homeless households. In 2007 the number was a modest 131,000. Increase in job losses have led to increase in loss of homes said assistant secretary of HUD Mercedes Marquez. The figures available right now do not present the total picture as many are camping with friends and relations; but later they will land up in the homeless shelters. 29.4% of the adults in the families living in shelters said that previously they had been living with others. In 2007 the number was 24.2%.
The feds have stepped up help for those on the streets chronically. On one night in January 2009 there were 111,000 habitual homeless wandering the streets. It has gone down by 10% from the previous year and 30% from 2006. Marquez commented that this was because of the building extra permanent housing. About 42,000 beds were increased from 2006 to 2009.
In 2009 more families stayed longer in the shelters. The average number of nights increased to 36 from 30 of the previous year. Most of the heads of the families were women below 31 years of age. Most of the children in the shelters were below 6 years. But a greater number of families comprising of two adults headed by a father only also succumbed to homelessness – all victims of the recession.
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